good morning ~
(click the link/image above and listen)
today's track features the now-gorgeously out-of-tune piano that lives in my girlfriend's sculpture studio - I didn't like playing it for a time but now it has, how do you say, character
for anyone near upstate, ny or western mass - i'll be playing an acoustic piano set in a converted old church this Saturday as part of take it slow fest, a cute little gathering including a big pot luck dinner organized by david slowing (who just put out a nice new ep). about halfway between hudson and great barrington, check here for more info.
and for those of you in NYC, I'll see you october 17th for the cicada waves show at IRL - tickies/info
18 and en route, hypermiling a beat-up prius full of all our stuff on a wild and nauseating 30-day trip across America. Inside the car: two idiots, clothes, CDs, books, a tent, two sleeping bags, a banjo, an electric guitar, a vintage typewriter, a 900-dollar bong in a velvet case, one laptop full of images from 4chan that would incriminate us at the Canadian border, a box of thirty letters written and illustrated by my high school girlfriend, a scale in grams, a false-bottom can of shaving cream for stashing weed, a 12-pack of Sapporo and a large handle of Malibu rum shoved under the spare tire in the trunk, and - at one point before they were confiscated by the border police - over one hundred dollars worth of fireworks, illegal in most states and definitely forbidden to bring into Canada.
In Arizona, our first night gone, I blacked out for the first time in my life. I was beer drunk in the dessert, puking under the stars, the cloying smell of lap dance perfume stuck to my clothes, no memory of anything past 10pm when I woke up. On the way to Roswell a cop pulled us over for doing 90+ mph and asked us if we - two obviously jewish people - had any opinions on all the jews running the world. No sir, we do not, and thank you for the ticket, sir. The plaster and painted backdrops at all the tourist spots in New Mexico so flimsy and underwhelming, I can't believe we paid for it. But the grift and the cheapness and the unslakable money thirst is mostly the point of America - it's the air you breathe when you try to drive through.
I hardly remember San Antonio, nothing really of note - the Alamo is small, everyone says that, and I remember struggling to put our tent together at the Kampgrounds of America. In that smeared-wide, Texas dusk we finally felt locked-in to what we were doing, chained at the ankle for the next 28 days. In Houston our first order of business was promptly getting kicked out of a high-end strip club - we got through the front door and were even seated near the stage, but when the server asks you what year you were born "uhhhhhh" is certainly the wrong answer, here comes the bouncer with his impossibly sausagey hand on your neck. We wound up at another bar that didn't care what age we were, honky tonk music, confederate flag draped over the bass cab lightly rippling with each pluck. Then a big bad tropical storm rolled in and we were soaked to the bone on the way to our hotel room, rain falling sideways, rain falling up.
In New Orleans we stayed with a friend who had been sent to our high school for a few months after the hurricane. We joined him and his family and a dozen other kids crashing in his house that still didn't have a front door, the house where from the porch you could see mausoleums in the graveyard across the street and military police constantly driving by in humvees. We spent some time, I blacked out some more, paint thinner punch from a styrofoam cup, impromptu flashlight raves in basements with blacked-out windows, and on our last night in town I came to in an internet cafe - it was 5am and I was playing counterstrike and losing badly, a game I hadn't ever played before and haven't played since.
Sobering up on the way out of Louisiana we drove to Clarksdale to see if we, too, could meet the devil where the highways cross - we never shook his hand, but we were stuck at a train crossing for over an hour as empty car after empty car rumbled by, hauling nothing to nowhere. Then we camped behind Graceland on the anniversary of Elvis' death - his ghost was everywhere, squeezed into white rhinestone jumpsuits on every corner of downtown Memphis, and I had a real moment of communion with the king while holding a candle over his grave, his syrupy gospel booming from loudspeakers propped up on the lawn, us and 1,000 other people there to pay our respects. On the way north we stayed with my stepsister outside of St. Louis - mostly uneventful but there was frozen custard in a parking lot and hundreds of stuffed animals propped on the guest bed. What do we do with them? We wondered, then tried to sleep without bothering them, lightly fearful.
And then we crossed the border into Illinois, through Bloomington and Joliet, into that sprawling city on the lake. We were sick of each other then, two straight weeks in the same little vessel, two more weeks to go, constantly hung over or fucked up or some teenage combination of the two - I remember him getting really pissed off at me for not realizing that Chicago had a river, "who doesn't fucking know that Chicago has a river???". I don't remember where we stayed and I'm pretty sure we went to see the film version of a Bukowski novel which I'm sure we were really excited about, toxic masculinity was very much the vibe. And then there was an afternoon spent at the Navy Pier, tourist-city, I think it was raining and so we did this fucked up little funhouse maze they have indoors out there. I don't remember how I felt when I saw Lake Michigan - was I immediately homesick, regretting my decision to drive so far from the Pacific Ocean? And then, wonderful, the museum of holography, three hours talking to this incredibly strange lady and looking at her holograms - tilt left, tilt right, wow the eyes are moving. We bought these rainbow prism glasses and took them to college with us, I remember walking around with them while on mushrooms and exploding in laughter when someone took my photo with a flash - I felt the rainbows shooting into me.
That was my first time in Chicago, and this whole associative narrative unraveled before me when someone simply asked me if I had ever visited the city before. Yes, I said out loud, I have.
But what about you? Have you ever been to Chicago? What was it like the first time you blacked out? Have you ever driven across America?